What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

July 1, 2010

Steve Fuller is professor of sociology, University of Warwick. "I am reading The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic? (MIT Press, 2009), a debate between Slavoj Žižek and John Milbank. In my preparations for writing a book on Socrates and Jesus, I found this odd coupling most revealing. Ever the Marxist, Žižek projects his revolutionary fantasies on to Jesus' ability to transcend our shortcomings, while Milbank, the 'radical Orthodox' theologian, sees Jesus as God brought down to earth. In the end, Žižek manages to 'out-Christian' Milbank."

John R. Grodzinski, assistant professor of history, Royal Military College of Canada, is reading Peter Hofschroer's translation of Carl von Clausewitz's On Wellington: A Critique of Waterloo (University of Oklahoma Press, 2010). "The first English-language edition of a study of the world's most famous campaign by the world's most renowned military theorist. Clausewitz's analysis of the strategic decisions made in 1815 is brilliant, while Hofschroer's essay on how Wellington supposedly had a translation of this 'lying work' suppressed makes compelling reading."

Stephen Halliday, lecturer at the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, is reading Robin R. Mundill's The King's Jews: Money, Massacre and Exodus in Medieval England (Continuum, 2010). "This sorry tale of exploitation begins with William the Conqueror, who encouraged Jews to settle in England so that he could borrow money from them, and ends with Edward I, who expelled them so he didn't have to repay them. In between, the Jews suffered massacres reminiscent of Tsarist pogroms. Not one of the most glorious chapters in our island story."

Andreas Hess is senior lecturer in sociology, University College Dublin. He is reading Christoph Muller's West Germans Against the West (Palgrave, 2010). "In this excellent historical-cultural study, Muller takes a closer look at the 'long 1950s' and shows convincingly that anti-American attitudes were not just at the fringes but pretty much at the heart of West Germany's emerging political culture. Coming to terms with the past, West German politicians and intellectuals struggled with the supposed 'deeper' meanings of the relationship between democracy, capitalism and culture."

Will Slocombe, lecturer in 20th-century literature, Aberystwyth University, is reading Martin Rowson's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Picador, 1996). "A graphic exploration of the novel of the same name, Rowson's Tristram Shandy is a lively, rambunctious adaptation. Graphic format and references to French deconstructionists notwithstanding, the humour is smart and perfectly in keeping with its source. A Cock and Bull Story for graphic novels."

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